Twenty-Nine Middle and High School Students Named National Endowment for the Humanities Scholars at 2016 National History Day

Twenty-nine young historians named NEH scholars at National History Day

NHD Students in the Parade of Affiliates
Photo caption

NHD Students in the Parade of Affiliates 

Photo: Chris Flynn/NEH

(July 17, 2016)

Twenty-Nine Middle and High School Students Named National Endowment for the Humanities Scholars at 2016 National History Day

This week nearly 3,000 students came from around the world to compete in the National History Daycompetition in College Park, MD. This annual event is the culmination of a yearlong academic program in which students in grades 6-12 conduct original historical research for papers, exhibits, websites, documentaries, and public performances. Each year more than 600,000 students compete in local, regional and state competitions for a chance to win a spot at the national finals.

NHD Students in the Parade of Affiliates
Photo caption

NHD Students in the Parade of Affiliates

Photo: Chris Flynn/NEH

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) applauds and congratulates each and every student who competed in the National History Day competition. NEH has been a supporter of National History Day since the program began in the 1970s. In addition to sponsoring sixteen National History Day awards for first place submissions across a range of categories, NEH also awards a National History Day prize for the best use in a student project of Chronicling America—a searchable online database of historic newspapers produced and maintained through a partnership between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress. EDSITEment, NEH’s educational website, also created a set of online resources around Chronicling America to assist students and educators in using the newspapers in historical research.

NEH Deputy Chairman Margaret (Peggy) Plympton attended the 2016 National History Day awards ceremony. She presented sixteen National History Day awards sponsored by NEH for first place submissions across a range of categories as well as the Chronicling America Special Prize. TIME magazine wrote an online feature about the National History Day competition that featured a photo of Deputy Chairman Plympton presenting the first place prize to Amir Abou-Jaoude for Senior Paper.  

In a video message, NEH Chairman William D. Adams congratulated all the students for making it this far in the competition and told them to continue writing their own histories. In these remarks, he also celebrated National History Day’s fortieth anniversary and thanked them for helping reinvigorate the teaching and learning of history. 

The following students were named National Endowment for the Humanities Scholars at the 2016 National History Day ceremony. The HISTORY Channel sponsored prizes for Senior Group Documentary and Senior Individual Documentary. Winners in other categories received prizes from a host of other sponsors. Students in grades 6-8 compete in the “junior” division; those in grades 9-12, in the “senior” division.

See full awards ceremony photos on Facebook.


Junior Group Exhibit:

Title: The Apollo-Soyuz Mission: Launching a Unified Exchange

Student(s): Callie Elms, Mehek Jain, Tara Ampolini, and Trinity Yeo

School: Singapore American School, Singapore, IS-SA

Teacher(s): Matt Elms

Junior Group Documentary:

Title: When Ballet Came to America

Student(s): Eleanor McCoy and Genevieve Haskins

School: Richards Middle School, Columbus, GA

Teacher(s): Stan Shively

Junior Individual Documentary:

Title: The Awakening of the Sleeping Giant: How Sino-American Rapprochement Triggered China's Meteoric Rise and What It Means Today

Student(s): Bobby Aiyer

School: Evergreen Middle School, Redmond, WA

Teacher(s): Nicole Kesler

Junior Individual Exhibit:

Title: Florence Wald: Exploring Medical Boundaries, Exchanging Hospitals for Hospice Student(s): Mia Porcello

School: Sedgwick Middle School, West Hartford, CT

Teacher(s): Jennifer Hunt

Junior Paper:

Title: American Colonial Committees of Correspondence: Encountering Oppression, Exploring Unity, and Exchanging Visions of the Future

Student(s): Benjamin Warford-Johnston

School: Gentry Junior High, Baytown, TX

Teacher(s): Tara Fountain

Junior Individual Performance:

Title: Dare to Explore: How the Founding of the National Geographic Society Changed the Scientific Community Forever

Student(s): Harper Hoover

School: Atlas Academy, Waco, TX

Teacher(s): Sandra Gibson and E. P. Garth

Junior Group Performance:

Title: Route 66: The Road of Possibilities

Student(s): Jack Anderson, Jader Briggs, Megan Swancutt, Daytona Foley, and Logan Smith

School: Akron-Westfield Community School, Akron, IA

Teacher(s): Val Philips                     

Junior Individual Website:

Title: An Unrepentant Risk Taker: Paul Durand-Ruel Encountering Parisian Culture

Student(s): Lily Gardner

School: Winburn Middle School, Lexington, KY

Teacher(s): Michelle Cason and Megan Lilly

Junior Group Website:

Title: Feminists in Flight: Exploring Gender Equality at 32,000 Feet

Student(s): Sophia Burick, Kelly McDonald, and Katherine McKernan

School: Shorecliffs Middle School, San Clemente, CA

Teacher(s): Bryan Campbell


Senior Group Exhibit:

Title: Fifteen Cents to See the Infants on Display

Student(s): Gabrielle Hines and Jennifer Gilby

School: Palm Harbor University High School, Palm Harbor, FL

Teacher(s): Jason Tsardoulias and Shaun Falcon

Senior Group Documentary:

Title: Introducing Americans to America

Student(s): Sydney Dye and Caroline Murphy

School: Chapel Hill High School, Chapel Hill, NC

Teacher(s): Holly Loranger

Senior Individual Documentary:

Title: The Journey of Sugar: Neither Short nor Sweet

Student(s): Aditya Ailiani

School: Onalaska High School, Onalaska, WI

Teacher(s): Lisa Reimbler

Senior Individual Exhibit:

Title: The Transcontinental Railroad: Exploring the West, Encountering Pitfalls, and Exchanging Culture

Student(s): Kelli Susemihl

School: Lemars Community High School, Lemars, IA

Teacher(s): Jeanne Rust

Senior Paper:

Title: A Pure Invention: Japan, Impressionism, and the West, 1853–1906

Student(s): Amir Abou-Jaoude

School: Henry Clay High School, Lexington, KY

Teacher(s): Chris Snow

Senior Individual Performance:

Title: Exploring and Exchanging Rhythms: Master Juba and the Early History of Tap Dance Student(s): Elisa Trujillo

School: Bishop Seabury Academy, Lawrence, KS

Teacher(s): Sonja Czarnecki

Senior Group Performance:

Title: Mary Musgrove: Exploration, Encounter and Exchange in the life of an Indian Princess Student(s): Mercy Koehler and Devin Snyder

School: Snyder Homeschool, Woodstock, GA

Teacher(s): Jennifer Snyder

Senior Individual Website:

Title: Duel and Duality: New Journalism, New York

Student(s): Shay Pezzulo

School: Classical Magnet School, Hartford, CT

Teacher(s): Jeffrey Hoberman

Senior Group Website:

Title: The Visionary Exploration of Jacques Cousteau: Changing Perceptions of the Ocean through Undersea Encounters

Student(s): Sovigne Gardner and Grace Gardner

School: Open World Learning Community, St. Paul, MN

Teacher(s): Katie Craven

Special Prize winners

Chronicling America: Historic American Newspaper Prize:

Junior Individual Website

Title: Nikola Tesla: Exploring Electricity

Student(s): Olivia Deyoung

School: Highland Christian School, Highland, IN

Teacher(s): Richard Vanderwoude

Senior Individual Performance

Title: The Exploration, Encounter, and Exchange of Elisha Kent Kane

Student(s): Claire Galvin

School: Home School (Galvin), WV

Teacher(s): Laura Galvin

A list of all 2016 National History Day finalists and winners is available at: